Council sets more meetings to discuss budget

Council has scheduled more time to talk about the controllable costs it will have to make some tough decisions about in order to tackle the town’s 2004 deficit woes.
The committee of the whole will meet Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the Civic Centre, Clerk Glenn Treftlin said Thursday morning.
“It’s an opportunity for the managers to show what they have done and get some feedback from council,” he noted.
Treftlin said all the division heads—George Bell (Community Services), Doug Brown (Operations and Facilities), Rick Hallam (Planning and Development) and acting CAO Mark McCaig—will get their chance to report.
The meeting is slated to last until 1 p.m. The public is welcome to attend, but it will not be broadcast on Channel 10.
Treftlin added two more such meetings are slated for Monday (Feb. 16) at 4 p.m. and at noon next Friday (Feb. 20).
The decision to hold these meetings was discussed Tuesday after McCaig had noted during Monday night’s council meeting that such discussions should take place as soon as possible.
The finalized budget must be in place by the end of March.
As previously reported, council is facing a $2,792,030 deficit, which could translate into a 67.5 percent tax hike for residents. Since then, council and town staff have been working to determine what has to be done to balance the budget.
Council even passed a resolution Monday night that despite any rumours on the street, no drastic cuts or tax increases have been decided upon yet.
“It should be clear that currently no position within the corporation had been deemed redundant and no town facility is scheduled for closure,” the resolution stated.
The town’s projected deficit is due to numerous factors, including unforeseen costs, anticipated increases such as salaries, and uncontrollable costs like those the town pays to the Northwestern Health Unit, District Social Services Administration Board, Rainycrest Home for the Aged, and the OPP.
As well, the town has long-term debt payments in the amount of roughly $700,000 to make while also seeing reduced revenues from interest on reserve funds—both of which partially are due to budget deficits from 2002 and 2003.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)